Pretoria – Chris Hani’s killer Janusz Waluś was a first time offender and he had a clean record while in prison, were some of the reasons reasons the Constitutional Court relied on in releasing the Polish murderer who shot dead the SACP leader outside his Boksburg home in 1993.
Waluś shot and killed Hani on the morning of 10 April 1993. He has served 29 years for the murder.
His release comes after numerous failed applications by the minister of justice with the first parole hearing held in 2011.
He turned to the Concourt after the Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola in 2020 once again refused him parole.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday, the highest court in the land ordered Lamola to take the necessary steps to place Walus on parole within 10 days of this judgment.
Zondo said the court relied on the following factors.
– The behaviour and adjustment of the offender during his incarceration and the clean record he has within the correctional centre;
– The multidisciplinary programs attended by the offender within the correctional centre aimed at his rehabilitation;
– The availability of support systems to the offender and employment prospects in the event of him being placed on parole;
– The fact that the offender is a first offender;
– The reports of the psychologists and social workers;
– The remorse on the part of the offender for the crime of murder committed; and
– The opinions of the psychologists that the risk of the offender re-offending is low.”
Zondo said Waluś disciplinary record inside prison over more than 25 years supports the mentioned factors.
“There is no complaint that over so many years the applicant has ever had any incidents of ill-discipline.
“By all accounts he seems to have been an exemplary prisoner.”
Zondo agreed that Waluś committed a horrendous crime, however, “no matter how serious the crime is for which a person is sent to jail, the court has no power to say that he or she should not be considered for parole for a period after the expiry of 25 years of imprisonment”.
He said a period of more than 15 years has lapsed since Waluś became eligible for consideration to be placed on parole.
In fact, he was eligible to be considered for parole in 2005.
Zondo added that Waluś has apologised to Hani’s family including his children and wife more than once.
The minister also accepts that he has shown remorse for the crime he committed.
“He cannot do anything about the nature of the crime he committed, its seriousness nor can he do anything about the sentencing remarks that the trial court had made about him and the crime of which he was convicted.”
He said the minister also accepted that Waluś’s risk of re-offending if he were to be placed on parole is low, which makes it unreasonable to deny him parole.
Zondo left the conditions of parole over to the minister to decide.